Ottawa Magazine’s Kimberley Johnson is in Barbados for Hockey Week, courtesy of Barbados Tourism Marketing, Inc. Follow her dispatches from the Caribbean every day this week, as she explores sun, sand, and the Senators. She’ll also be tweeting (@ottawamag) and posting photos via Instagram (ottawa_magazine). And read an exclusive excerpt from Bruce Firestone’s new book about the Senators, Don’t Back Down: The Real Story of the Founding of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, on our website.
If you ask someone on this trip what they like most about it there’s usually a list: sun, sand, and not missing hockey games.
The next item on the list? Food.
Many restaurants feature fresh catch of the day right from the fish markets, and a major one is out of Oistins, located in the parish of Christ Church on the south coast.
Members of the Hockey Week group headed down on Friday night. Oistins is popular throughout the weekend, but Friday nights are by far the biggest night of the week for both tourists and locals, according to Barbados Marketing Tourism Inc.
Meeting up with friends in the Hockey Week group, Colleen Cole, an Ottawa woman who has been living in Barbados for 10 years with her Bajan husband, Justin, emphasizes it is a popular spot for many locals.
“It’s the freshest fish ever, because it’s pretty much guaranteed to be caught today,” says Cole. “It’s a big deal for the fisherman. It’s the hub of the area, for sure.”
During the day, spectators (with strong stomachs) can watch fisherman bring in and sell their catch right on the beach. Originally, this area was strictly a fish market, but has grown to be a trendy location to grab food in the evenings.
At around 6:30 p.m., the Oistins fish-fry starts up and the area becomes an outdoor, informal dinner with a party atmosphere. A labyrinth of brightly coloured, individual food huts opens their shutters, and cooks fire up the outdoor grills. Once the sun goes down, people dance to island music, or sit and chat over drinks.
For about an average of $30 BDS ($21 Canadian) Hockey Weekers got their choice of meat, salad, and two sides (including Bajan favourite macaroni pie). The choices ranged from lobster, mahi-mahi, chicken, or flying fish, which is a national symbol in the country.
Listening to the island’s calypso and soca music in the main square after dinner, John and Rosemary Van Allen said they found their food impressive. The Senators fans are on their first trip with the Hockey Week group, and second to Barbados. They say the food in the country has not disappointed them so far, but Oistins stood out.
“I had the flying fish,” Rosemary Van Allen says, “and I genuinely think it was the best fish I ever had.”
John Van Allen agrees.
“I had the King Fish, which is something I’ve eaten before (here), and it was a little spicy, but really, really well done. I’m really impressed.”
As the sun went down, Hockey Weekers shopped the vendors picking up souvenirs like pottery and clothes, and chatted over food and drinks.
Only several members of the group came out to Oistins because it was not an organized group outing, (and there is certainly lots to do on the island), but the ones who did say they got a great meal and a fun night in the city before game day against the L.A. Kings.